Tom n Chee
 Cincinnatti, Ohio        Date of Visit  09/07/13

We are in Cincinnati for le Diner en Blanc and I have been waiting to be in the area after seeing some of the options Adam Richman tried on an episode of Man vs Food when he stopped in at Tom n Chee. It just had to be done. We stopped in at the downtown location instead of driving across the river to the original in Newport KY. The building has definitely been around for quite a while and years of use are pushing through the bright paint on the walls. The staff has sort of a raggedy piratesqe rabble look to them, fits with the surroundings, but they were excited to see us, helpful in a straightforward and friendly way and stupid efficient.



The Menu Chalked On The Wall

The menu is chalked on the walls but we already knew what we were there for, we only added a cup of the daily soup. We had planned on trying one of the three tomato soups they serve everyday but the bleu cheese chili was just too inviting.

I just realized I am tapping away expecting everyone to know they take their name from kitchen slang for the ubiquitous grilled cheese and tomato soup combo, hence the multiple tomato soups, none of which we tried but we did have three grilled cheese sandwiches and the chili. The chili was strangely wonderful. A light and mildly spiced broth held an amalgam of meats, I couldn’t identify all of them but they were large chunks of ground, cubed beef, pork and a hot doggy sort of sausage which made each bite a little different, all of which were meaty delicious. Add to that the gravel of a green veined bleu cheese sprinkled on the top and our first bites in Cinci were living up to the hype if not exceeding it. 

Varied Meats Make Bleu Cheese Chili Really Interesting & Tasty

The Armagoetta Is Stupendously Delicious With Perfect Blend Of Strange

The sandwiches came from a different box than your Schwebles and American cheese comfort variety. The savory option is labeled the Armagoetta. I had heard of goetta before but had never had opportunity to try it, as it appears to be a Cincinnati only sort of thing. I have had many opportunities to try the Pennsylvania Dutch loaf known as scrapple which I typically turn down. Pork scraps turned into mush and loaded with cornmeal and flower, there’s something less appealing when you actually put the word scrap prominently in the name. Goetta is not necessarily pork but consists of some type of meat scraps mixed with steel cut oats before being loafed, sliced and griddled for service. The oats do seem to make a difference, adding a significant textural and flavor element.

The Armagoetta has two slices of bread, one rye and one sourdough, a slab of crisped goetta plus cherry peppers, fried onions, pepper jack cheese, and sweet/hot mustard. I was sure Steph would take a bite, bobble her head a little bit and I would be getting essentially both halves while she moved on to the sweeter sandwiches. She’s not into things like mystery meats or onions or spicy things or rye bread for that matter. I didn’t get an extra bite. She really enjoyed it and I loved this sloppy mess. Flavorful bread with a thin crust, crunchy oated meat with cheese oozing through it, a punch of spice from the mustard and peppers, plus the peppers had a bright vinegary sharpness which cut through the entire sandwich. This thing is an extremely well constructed Sammy.

The Lemon Drop Grilled Cheese

Tart, Sweet, Just Right

We also ordered two sweet sandwiches, both of which use glazed donuts rather than slices of bread. One makes sense, the other (also seen on MvF) sounds horrible. The first was a lemon drop. The donut is filled tartly sweet lemon mascarpone cheese blend, candied lemon pieces and a little melted mozzarella to keep everything from falling out through the hole in the donut. It tastes just like you would want it to, rich and tart with an even sweetness against the citric acid from the lemon. Imagine a lemon chiffon pie with a glazed donut crust and you’d be close. 


It Sounds So Wrong...

But If Lovin' you Is Wrong, I Don't Wanna Be Right

The weird little number which kept Tom n Chee on the list for years is referred to as the Blueberry Blue. Get this…. Donut. Lemon mascarpone. Blueberry compote. A little more mozz as a donut manhole cover. Oh yeah, and bleu cheese. It sounds like someone thought to themselves…”hey, self. They both say blue. Of course they would taste good together, just like all blue things.” I gotta tell you, it’s gigantically good. The whole thing is a little sweeter than the lemon drop and you get sizable lumps of stinky cheese in a bite, you know it’s there, but against the slick compote and mascarpone it adds just an echo of funk which tamps down the sweetness in an interesting and frighteningly delicious style

We’ve been to all sorts of places we had seen on one show or another. Most fail to live up to the hype. Some miserably so. Tom n Chee whooped our expectation like someone trying to provoke Ingrid Newkirk by thrashing a rented mule. Fun. Original. Delicious.




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